Confronting armed zealots takes courage. Some find that courage, some don’t. It’s not necessarily a dishonorable trait to prioritize self-preservation. Sacrificing one’s life isn’t how reasonable humans are naturally wired.

That’s why extraordinary courage has been memorialized by every civilization in history.

This week, America watches the events in Afghanistan in stunned silence. We watch a former Gitmo detainee sit behind the desk of the president of Afghanistan and address the press as President Joe Biden hides from accountability at Camp David — surrounded by armed guards.

The decision to militarily withdraw from Afghanistan after a 20-year engagement was correct. After 20 years of training and supplying billions in equipment, the Afghan army wasn’t going to get any more proficient. At the same time, the Biden administration knew the Taliban had, by the end of June, recaptured and delivered their brand of justice in most of Afghanistan’s provinces.

To abandon America’s friends to that inhumanity is unforgivable regardless of who occupies the Oval Office.

Biden has, as former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in his 2018 book, “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” No one should act surprised by his current failure.

What qualifies as a profound disappointment is the lack of personal accountability, and courage, by our military and intelligence leadership. How could they fail to plan to exfiltrate the Afghans they knew would be targeted? Or maybe they tried and were hindered by the swamp that’s the Washington bureaucracy.

We know that America’s military brass and intel leadership regularly leaked criticism under President Donald Trump. Could it be that military/intelligence leaders did leak concerns to a press corps that suppresses anything that casts a Democrat in a negative light?

Today, everyone grasps the consequences of feckless leadership. But will that translate into courage in American communities where we face challenges less severe than being publicly hanged or forced into sex slavery by religious zealots?

This is a teachable moment. Americans don’t have to sacrifice their life to confront a malicious ideology. How much courage does it take to not purchase products made in a country that runs forced labor camps and undermines freedom around the world?

What about standing up to cancel culture and doxing? How much courage does it take to close social media accounts at companies that practice political censorship? For our elected leaders to not pass budgets that cripple our children’s financial future?

For a media to abide by established journalistic ethics? Or to stand against a movement that seeks to abandon the path built by Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, Mahatma Gandhi and other civil rights leaders?

Who can doubt that minimal courage in our own communities is profoundly consequential to America’s future? This isn’t an undertaking where your life is on the line. In the battle of ideas, all it takes to win is to show up.

Norman Pappous lives in League City.

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(37) comments

Charles Douglas

I agree Mr. Pappous, " ALL you have to do is show up, standing up!" I thought I would help you out a little. I am surprised that we don't have more men of your stature speaking up for America! I admire what you said here tonight! Joe Biden was not fit for the highest office in America anyway, and now the whole world knows it by his own actions! He is a disgrace, that will stain the fabric of history against this nation forever!

Jack Cross

We have another crisis in the making. To save face and present America as caring and humane, there is a rush to bring in thousands of Afghan Refugees. This is the exact path that Europe took several years ago, now they see and regret the disaster with crime and rape of women all across Europe. The Afghans are creating the most crimes.

They come from rural villages rom a 1l th century culture that clashes with western couture who they dispise. They are Islamic shia law advocates. who go crazy when they are exposed to western culture. They hate gays and imagine their reaction when they come into contact with a transgender or half dressed American women.

They have not respect for women, that is why there is so many rapes in Europe.

Gary Scoggin

I’d be interested in what you propose as an alternative for those who are at risk because they’ve been helping us over there for years.

David Hardee

Gary, your correct "they were helping us" for pay, employees. They were a specific classification of employees called mercenaries. No matter what activity they performed it was for pay in the war against the culture and religion that had prevailed in their country for centuries, ergo to the original culture traitors and tothe original religion heretics. Consider the following:

The media and the politicians are promoting a humane posturing for the Afghans that were in the service of the American/NATO forces. Any that would offer an alternative to the humane position is rightfully called inhumane.

But the facts deserve to be stated and considered as mitigating to being clled inhumane.

Facts are:

- It is absurd to claim pure altruistic motives to those that get paid for services.

- persons have the ability to reject high risk employment.

- dedication is different from being paid.

- Knowing you are considered a heretic and or traitor is a choice that is not taken lightly.

Ergo when unforeseen circumstances create conditions that are uncontrollably the act of humanity and the reality are in competition and the jeopardies for taking an initiative must be weighed for the best result.

It is my and many like minded that the humanity of extracting the Afghans that are in Jeopardy should be pursued and delivered to a place considered safe BUT not inserted into an already traumatic population struggling with cultural diversity, the USA. Get them vetted thoroughly and continue their pay for a reasonable period and deliver them to place where their culture is melded with the general population.

These were employees not allies. They deserve assistance to the extent it does no additional harm to the assistor.

Carlos Ponce

"I’d be interested in what you propose as an alternative for those who are at risk because they’ve been helping us over there for years." -

That's when our "allies" in the Middle East offer to take them in. Similar religion, climate, heritage.

Gary Scoggin

David, I always appreciate your take on things, I often disagree but at least you’ve put thought into your comments. Also, much to my surprise, Carlos even offered a salient comment here.

We can certainly regard the Afghans that aided us as mere employees to whom we have no further obligation after the last paycheck has cleared the bank. And take the position that whatever happens next is of no consequence to us, after all they made their beds and now they have to lie in them. I will argue that this view is incorrect from two perspectives, one practical and one moral.

Practically, we hire people in these roles all over the world, not just in Afghanistan. Engaging the local populace is essential to the success of our missions. (You can argue as to the validity of many of these missions but that’s a different topic.). How will we continue to hire and retain these people if they have no confidence that we won’t leave them hanging out to dry when we are done with them. The relationship there is different than hiring someone to paint your house and then not looking back when the job is done. Taking a job working for the US in many places is a big commitment that goes beyond money. We can’t expect to find good people unless we show we are as committed as they are.

Morally, we also have commitments here. Many Afghans came to work for us not just for the money but because they also believed that we could establish an Afghanistan where people enjoyed many of the freedoms not provided by Taliban rule. And for a long while, many did. They were more than mere mercenaries that you suggest. They risk the welfare of themselves and their families for a mission that we were conducting. Do we have a moral obligation to those that risked so much to help us? I think so.

But there is a bigger point here. From Jack’s original letter it is clear to me that if these folks were blonde, blue-eyed, English fluent Christians he would have no problem with bringing them to the US. This is a dangerous kind of tribalism that goes beyond this present situation.

Sharon Stratman

Well said, Gary.

Bailey Jones

You're right, as usual, Gary.

George Croix

"But there is a bigger point here. From Jack’s original letter it is clear to me that if these folks were blonde, blue-eyed, English fluent Christians he would have no problem with bringing them to the US. This is a dangerous kind of tribalism that goes beyond this present situation."

Gary, Jack wrote a one man opinion piece, or, at least it was written by Jack and he named no co-authors, yet you declared Jacks piece 'tribalism'. And, you've got company...

Is that in, like, last of the Mohicans tribal..a tribe of one....?

May disagree with the all inclusive nature of the examples in that opinion piece, as not ALL Afghans do such things, but the fact is we're watching some of that bad acting play out on TV this week.

domenico nuckols

Typical Republicans are you want to do is sell weapons that’s all Afghanistan was about that’s all Vietnam was about

Carlos Ponce

¡ǝsuǝsuoN

Jim Forsythe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTTlqPM_3aY

George Croix

I wish I'd read something like this years ago before I made several hundred emergency responses along with my fellow teams/members. We were under the impression that we were obligated not just by signing up and training to do so, but by concern for the well being of our other fellow employees.

I didn't know a paycheck could be counted as invoking an at your own risk clause...

I'd be slightly less ugly...very slightly...than today, and making fewer bone joint noises when I get up in the morning, had I felt empowered to tell them they were on their own....

But, I'm in a worse than usual bad mood today, so may be a bit too edgy about it....

Jim Forsythe

Did we accomplish our goals in Afghanistan? Why did we continue in Afghanistan for almost 20 years? Afghanistan is a place many have tried to change and no-one has, yet.

In late 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, there were two main goals in Afghanistan. First, to deny Al Qaeda a safe haven from which to plan, train and launch terrorist attacks on a global scale. Secondly, to remove the Taliban regime from power as punishment for not cooperating with the international community and for harboring terrorism—a sort of twenty-first century version of a nineteenth-century punitive raid on the frontier. Both were accomplished with relative speed— it can even be argued that this was achieved by the summer of 2002.

Winston Churchill, while serving as a young officer fighting the Pashtuns in the 19th century, explained the difficulty of winning the type of war he faced then and that the United States faced in Afghanistan:

"There are no general actions on a great scale, no brilliant successes, no important surrenders, no chance for a coup de theatre. It is just a rough hard job, which must be carried through. The war is one of small incidents. The victory must be looked for in the results."

We could have the results that we have now, or have a situation like the DMZ in between North and South Korea. Will we ever leave the DMZ zone?

Trump told Afghanistan that we were leaving, and so did Biden. They should have been ready for our leaving. If we had drug it out for another year, would the withdraw results been any different? You can tear off a band aid slow or fast, but the result is the same, it is removed!

George Croix

Jim, a quick thought...

When you were sent to pull a tower manway you did NOT have to open it up if you found out that something had changed since the permit was issued to now make it unwise/unsafe to open that flange. YOU, more than a permit paper, were responsible for the safety on that deck, at that time. Scheduled does not top Now Wrong...in a sane world.... Just like I did not have to startup a unit to meet a schedule if, as the guy in charge, I decided it was the right thing to not startup. And we're both a lot lower on the pole than CIC.

If all the but_ covering going on right now all around is even partially true, our President was warned by his own people and leaders that current conditions made it unwise to go forward as scheduled, much less rush it up.

Biden's a big boy...and Trump is 7 months gone....

BTW, I recall that the reason we stayed in Afghanistan was to make it less likely to be a recruiting haven/base for terrorist groups targeting us.

Whatever one may think yea or nay, there's zero doubt that we just gave the terror organizers a few billion bucks worth of free recruiting incentives with the videos of the results of doubling down...unnecessarily....

Charles Douglas

That all sounded very pretty to anyone who was not abreast of how we anitially left, and peripheral circumstances involved with that decision to leave! Then Joe had to try to save face, by coming back with fighting troops to put on a show of accountability, and NOT doing a good job of that! I told somebody last night that one my young man skills among many was the ability to look at a situation, tear it down mentally, and think about all the steps, labor, mechanical help, parts, machinery, cost, and time it would take to put it back together again.( Planning). On top of that, anything needed to be added, subtracted, or performed would have to be considered, and grafted into the full product consideration upon completion!

Now then, because I am also an Airborine Vietnam Veteran I know a little about how ro fight Viet Congs, Afghans, and general ***t heads too! Now what am I edging up to here! I wanted to take care to make a viable point that NOBODY should say they are withdrawing from a war, taking out their fighting combat troops, but leaving behind American Citizens, families, Allies & their citizens, Assets, hundreds of billions of dollars worth of equipment, tanks, aircrafts, hellicopters, assault weapons, and contractors who were helping us fight the war, .....like Joe Biden and his crew from HELL did in Afghanistan!

There is never any excuse for such an unconscionable, dastardly, cowardly act committed by Joe Biden, the Chief of Staff, and Loyd Austin! Then to put a Shine on Shame they had the unmitigated gall to say the Afghans were a bunch of cowardly, yellow-bellies who wouldn't fight! Wait! Joe Biden calling somebody a coward? Huh? There is no excuse for what these people did! There is blood on their hands, and their legs, and [censored] too!

It would be nice to see our Radical Liberal Associates on this forum stop being political for one minute and admit the truth! The man they picked, supported, and voted for ...was never a leader! In FIFTY years of public service he has been a Racist, who associated with Racists Klansmans & and U.S. Senate Dixicrats! He ran with them, made RACIST laws with them to hurt minorities! He joked publicly about Seven- Eleven Middle-Easterners like the ones who are dying, and being forced into Sex SLAVERY right now in Afghanistan, because of Joe's incompetentcy! It would be nice if some of his supporters would standup, and call for this man's impeachment, or his dismissal, for cause, his border debacle, his TEN PERCENT take of Hunter's bribes, and so on! Lastly:

" He who diggeth a pit shall fall there in; and he who rolleth a stone ..it shall return onto him." ...Proverbs 26:27

Cary Semar

Joe Biden was dealt a very bad hand. Perhaps he could have played it better. It is obvious to me that this disaster took more than seven months to create.

George Croix

Joe Biden was also dealt a much more controlled southern border with Remain in Mexico and no more Catch and Release, and was dealt this country finally in energy independence and a net oil exporter....

He gets the hat trick for blowing all three biggies...

Only took a few minutes with a pen after inauguration to blow the first two....

The third is still being blown, so time adjustments to come later....

Carlos Ponce

If Biden had followed President Trump's plan this would not have been a disaster.

George Croix

ps:

I've heard few complaints about leaving Afghanistan...the issue is how doing that was, correction, is being, screwed up totally....

The two different issues are being widely conflated because it helps my President look to those conflating a little bit less like a cross between Sgt. Schultz and Baghdad Bob.....

Jim Forsythe

Even as the other Presidents are gone, they all had their fingerprints on what happen in Afghanistan. Some still have their finger in the mess, if you believe Trump .

June 26 — At a rally in Ohio, his first since leaving office, Trump boasts that Biden can’t stop the process he started to remove troops from Afghanistan, and acknowledges the Afghan government won’t last once U.S. troops leave.

“I started the process,” Trump says. “All the troops are coming back home. They [the Biden administration] couldn’t stop the process. 21 years is enough. Don’t we think? 21 years. They couldn’t stop the process. They wanted to, but it was very tough to stop the process when other things… It’s a shame. 21 years, by a government that wouldn’t last. The only way they last is if we’re there. What are we going to say? We’ll stay for another 21 years, then we’ll stay for another 50. The whole thing is ridiculous. … We’re bringing troops back home from Afghanistan.”

Part of our problem is that we thought that Afghanistan wanted our type of government and way of life. This attitude on our part, is why we failed in transforming Afghanistan. Many others have tried, and failed.

Invader's in the history of Afghanistan include the Maurya Empire, the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great of Macedon, Rashidun Caliphate, the Mongol Empire led by Genghis Khan, the Timurid Empire of Timur, the Mughal Empire, various Persian Empires, the Sikh Empire, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and most recently a coalition force of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops, the majority from the United States, which entered the country in the first-ever invocation of NATO's Article 5 "an attack on one is an attack on all" following the September 11 attacks in the United States.

If the date of withdraw had been different, would the outcome have been different? Would a withdrawal in May, Mid July or Dec. 31 made for a different outcome? My answer is that Afghanistan knew we were leaving and after many years of us training their troops, they still cannot protect themselves. Us staying longer would not change the outcome in Afghanistan. We had different ways of withdrawing, slow or fast and each had possible bad outcomes, that people would not like.

If we stayed any longer ,we would have had to engaged the Taliban, in a no win situation.

"Pentagon Accelerates Withdrawal From Afghanistan. American troops are set to be out by early to mid-July, well ahead of President Biden’s Sept. 11 deadline, even as big issues remain unresolved."

Charles Douglas

Somebody is not listening, reading correctly, or comprehending! Leaving Afghanistan IS NOT the issue & WAS not the issue, or the problem! Okay? Okay? Drawing your fighting troops out, turning tail and running, leaving Mama, Grandmama, the kids, Allies, Interpreters & families, hundreds of billions of dollars worth of tanks, planes, helicopters, and other Assets was & IS ....THE ISSUE! THIS IS THE PROBLEM!

Now I'm a sensible man, and my thinking can be changed, with truth! So here is my offer: Tell me one other President who gave the order compelling Joe China to abandon all common sense, or to help Joe Biden make the decision to LEAVE our assets, friends, Allies, and American Citzens in harm's way to die at the hands of ISIS, AL QUEDA & The TALIBAN? Name not five, three, two,....NAME ME JUST ONE??????????????????? Who held hands with Joe China and helped him to do what he did? His Allies who some on the forum said in the past was glad to see America back with him leading, well I don't think that is what they think now. Better check on that! Lastly: I want yall to settle down, feel good .....be merry,.....we are just.getting started! Think what you have seen so far is bad? I said this in January, ask GDN, & I will say it again now, "ALL HELL IS FIXING TO BREAK LOOSE!" So Buckle Up and please stop trying to protect that irresponsible, incompetent imbecile!!!! The truth is out, in front of the world! Y'all can't protect him after all this!!!!!!!

Charles Douglas

Just learned that the Taliban who have encircled the Kabul Airport in Afghanistan, & is determining who get into the Airport & who does not! They are beating people up, taking pasports & ID papers! What kind of crap is it When the ENEMY is telling you which ones of YOUR people YOU can evacuate?

When it rains it pours! Just learned that Joe China crawled up to Putin asking if he could set up intelligence in Putin area near Afghanistan and Vlad told him "NO WAY!" Y'all need to get that guy out of there, he is.......

Jim Forsythe

Just as in Vietnam, we are leaving behind Billions in equipment. In Vietnam most of the equipment that was still in good condition was put into arsenal or for use by the People’s Army of Vietnam and other armed forces, and those that are unusable were salvaged for scrap or turned into museum pieces. In Afghanistan the same was hoped for, but with the Taliban taking the country starting several months a go, the outcome may not be good.

Pentagon officials would not confirm that, but consider this: in the month of February alone, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Disposition Services sold 34.7 million pounds of scrap from its own vehicles and equipment to local Afghan vendors, according to figures provided. And in the past 12 months, the agency sold 387 million pounds of scrap, sending $46.5 million back to the U.S. Treasury. Officials say it's the only alternative to shipping everything back to the States, which by air or through dangerous land routes via Pakistan would be entirely cost-prohibitive.

Some equipment, including helicopters, military vehicles, weapons and ammunition, is to be handed over to the Afghan military. Equipment and vehicles that can neither be repaired nor transferred to Afghanistan's security forces because of poor condition will be destroyed.

"Divesting" (or leaving vehicles and materiel behind), provides "a cost avoidance of $844 million in transportation, storage, and security costs. Some excess equipment is simply cheaper to divest than retrograde, reset, or retain."

While military experts say this is typical in any war, and particularly a protracted and costly one like Afghanistan, Davis said there was a lot sent over to the country that was never utilized in the first place and might never be used again.

Among other expenses, the inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction has been probing a half-billion dollars spent on providing refurbished aircraft to the Afghan Air Force, only to abandon the contract and leave the planes collecting dust on airfields in Kabul and Germany. Part of the problem was an apparent failure to acquire the spare parts needed to keep the planes operational.

Afghans who spoke with the Associated Press last November said the junkyards are towering with American cast-offs. "These are things we can use at home with our families or in our business," Kandahar junk dealer Mir Ahmed told the AP. "But instead they turn everything to junk and then they give it to us."

Unless we a willing to keep troops forever in Afghanistan, even a slow withdraw would not result in safety for the Mamas, Grandmas, the kids left behind.

This is of course you want to bring the Millions to the USA or increase our troop numbers forever.

Extracting the helpers of the USA has not gone well as Afghanistan troops are of no help. Remember back to Vietnam, left behind were millions of USA supporters. The same will be true in Afghanistan.

Charles Douglas

If this is what it takes to gain rest and peace from the big foriegn policy blunder your candidate made by costing the lives of many innocent people by his thirst for political glory,... who am I to stand in your WAY! I've already said yall should feel good about yourselves. Just be away that you will be "splaining" a lot in the next 3.5 years because this is the tip of the Iceberg of destruction with Joe Biden! Also as Obama once said, " Don't ever underestimate Joe Biden's ability to [censored] something up." Again enjoy!!!!!!

Mark Ciavaglia

Regardless of politics, there is certainly ample fodder for debate regarding our involvement with Afghanistan. Once again, however, we are well served to carefully consider the history of occupation conflicts. For anyone interested in this topic, I urge you to read 'Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife' by Lt. Col. John A. Nagl. Not only is Lt. Col. Nagl a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and the War in Iraq, he is an accomplished military historian specific to counterinsurgency conflicts. Spoiler alert: they often end poorly for the occupying force. Once invasion occurs, the occupying force faces one major decision ... when to leave.

Lisa Windsor

Excellent book! I met him at the Army War College.

domenico nuckols

Trump never had a plan only line his pockets hope rots in Rucker’s

Carlos Ponce

Your statement lacks truth.

domenico nuckols

How do you the Secret Service go to jail with him

Carlos Ponce

Joe won't need Secret Service where HE'S going, domenico.

domenico nuckols

He should get life in the electric chair

Carlos Ponce

Joe in the electric chair? Nah! The Federal government hasn't used the chair since Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

domenico nuckols

New York State did the execution

Charles Douglas

Mr. Ponce> Lololololo!!!!!! [smile][beam]

Charles Douglas

Joe China and The Taliban are partners who are working together to limit who leaves Afghanistan! Joe's people are handling the inside of the Airport at Kabul, and ISIS, Al Queda, and the Taliban are handling the outside of the Airport! Joe still has no idea who that Big BLACK Man is ...wearing a Black Mask hanging out at the White House with him! ( Loyd Austin ). He calls him ..ahh ahhh the General...ahhh that Secretary!

It is a Shameful time to admit that I am an American! I am ashamed! This is all on Joe ...a dastardly, dispicuable human being who hates BLACKS & Mid-Easterners! He made laws against us and cracked jokes about us publicly! He has never seen but one clean-cut, nice looking, articulate, well spoken BLACK MAN in his life! His words ...NOT mine!

A news anchor asked Joe China if he had seen people dropping to their deaths while holding onto aircrafts leaving Afghanistan, Joe replied, " Heyyy that was four days ago!" In other words that is OLD NEWS MAN!!!!!

He has been in office eight months and NATO and the world are sick of him already! This phoney, this fake imitation of a leader the Fake News, Big TECH, and the SWAMP lied, censored, cheated, conspired, DOXed, and deceived minorities in order to get elected has been exposed for a fraud, racist, and a hoax! His name is mud in Europe, and he thinks they love him over there, not realizing that he has become to them, what he already was to us, a LIABILITY the world cannot afford!

Lisa Windsor

You ask a lot of questions, Mr. Pappous, but your point escapes me. Do you have actual knowledge of courage? Did you show up? Did you serve your country? Or are you just another Google warrior? What the world needs far less of is opinion pollution—the spouting off about subjects of which you have no personal knowledge. I understand this might wipe multitudes off the social media map but it would be for the good of the country. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t talk. Stick to what you know and leave the big themes to the people who have actually studied and lived them.

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